FIVE WORLD RECORDS FOR THE AUSSIES!!
By Stephen Thomas
After the rigors of the Pan Pacific Championships, it was not surprising that many of the leading Australian swimmers set themselves a limited program or decided to rest from this meet altogether. The SC Championships commenced only four days after the Pan Pacs. Grant Hackett was still recovering from his brilliant swim in the 1500m freestyle and Sam Riley needed to rest her broken toe. Susie O’Neill only swam the 200m fly on the first night but in doing so broke her own world record, reducing some of the disappointment of missing the world mark in Sydney last week. O’Neill’s time of 2:04.43 was just under a second better than the mark she set in Malmo in February this year. Kieren Perkins had a solid swim in the 400m freestyle after his illness last week (3:52.73) finishing third behind a cruising Ian Thorpe (3:45.78) and youngster Craig Stevens.
One swimmer was simply outstanding at this meet. Michael Klim swam in six events at the Pan Pacs. The competition, which was held in Klim’s home pool at the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport), showed the man is made of the sternest stuff. His form is a credit to the hard work the champion swimmer has put in with his coach Gennadi Touretski.
On Wednesday Klim led an AIS ‘club’ relay team to break the world mark for the 800m freestyle relay which was held by the Australian national team. On Thursday night he regained the world record for the 100m butterfly he had lost to James Hickman of England last December. Klim became the first person to go under 51 seconds, clocking 50.99 and beating the old mark by 0.03s. He also swam an excellent 47.83 in the 100m freestyle semi-final on Saturday. On the final night of competition he made a concerted attempted to break Croatian Milos Milosevic’s world time for the 50m butterfly in the semi-final. He went close, missing the mark by just 0.08s in 23.38. Within minutes he was on the blocks again to swim the final of the 100m freestyle. He won comfortably in 48.05. Klim was back in the pool again soon after to have another shot at the 50m fly record. Again he won in a slightly slower time of 23.45. Not satisfied with this result he appealed to officials to allow him to swim a time-trial after the final event. Given official sanction he swam solo with the crowd cheering wildly at this final attempt. Klim “nailed the start and the turn” powering home in 23.21, a new world mark and making it three SC world records for the meet!
Another outstanding performance came from Matt Welsh silver medalist in the 100m backstroke behind American Lenny Krayzelburg at the Pan Pacs. Welsh equaled German Thomas Rupprath’s world record of 24.13 for the 50m backstroke on the first night of competition and finished the meet winning the 100m backstroke in 51.77, only the second person to go under 52s. The time was more than half a second under the three-year-old Commonwealth record set by fellow Aussie Adrian Radley and taking him closer to the 51.43 work record held by American Jeff Rouse.
Lori Munz broke Susie O’Neill’s Australian record in winning the 100m freestyle in 54.00. She also won the 200m freestyle and the 100m and 200m IM.
Ian Thorpe won the 200m freestyle in 1:44.22, which was less than a second outside the world mark he set at the World Short Course Championships in Hong Kong in April. He was almost two seconds ahead of Todd Pearson in second place. His main rivals Klim and Hackett did not contest the race.
The meet marked the return to competition for former long-course 200m breaststroke, world record holder Rebecca Brown. Twenty-two-year-old Brown, who ‘retired’ earlier in the year, managed second behind Caroline Hildreth in the 200m and third behind Helen Denman in the 100m.
The Australian team announced at the end of the meet to contest the World SC Championships in Greece next year was without most of the leading Australian swimmers as the event is held shortly before the Australian selection trials for Sydney 2000.